tv White House Chronicles PBS April 15, 2012 9:00am-9:30am EDT
>> hello, i'm llewellyn king, the host of "white house chronicle" which is coming right up. but first, a few thoughts of my own. i was just thinking how absolutely wonderful it is to be curious and what a good way to judge a politician it is to inquire about the state of their curiosity. we have had some presidents, for example -- one comes to mind, jimmy carter, who was possibly to curious. it's sort of flies in the face of what i usually say about
curiosity but he immerse himself in detail. i was told a story once at the height of the energy crisis how he was sitting and trying to understand and asking technicians out a catalytic converter works. probably not a good use of presidential time. on the other hand, we had george w. bush was simply was not curious enough. one would have thought that somebody with his options, his possible is, would at least have gone to paris to see what it was all about and of course some of the mistakes he made in the middle east, particularly not understanding the difference between shia muslim and sunni moslem would not have happened if he had had more curiosity. curiosity leads you to the marvelous place where you find out something you didn't know before. and the pure joy of that. i am all for curiosity. turn it over, open it up, see how what works, see what it
says. curiosity fills the mind. a well-stocked mind is a pleasure for you and something quite important in the president's. i have a great show for you today. with some of the most curious reporters in washington. some of them very top journalists to talk about the use of the time -- keep your -- great issues of the time. keep your curiosity ready. >> many have spoken out on the need to transition to a clean energy future. at exelon, we are acting. by 2020, we are committed to reducing, offsetting, or displacing more than 15 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually from greening our operations, helping customers and communities reduce emissions, and offering more low carbon electricity in the marketplace. at exelon, we are taking action and we are seeing results. >> "white house chronicle" is produced in collaboration with whut, howard university television.
now, your program host, nationally syndicated columnist llewellyn king, and co-host linda gasparello. captioned by the national captioning institute --www.ncicap.org-- >> hello again, and thank you for coming along. i promise you the best in the best here with me. linda gasparello of this program. she doesn't seem totally convinced by the compliment. >> i'm flattered, thank you. >> and of every place to have for the first time, ed kelley, the editor of "washington times." nice to have the old friend and my editor at hearst "the new york times" syndicate, chuck lewis, senior editor of the hearst newspapers in washington. and another new friend at this table, michael fauntroy of george mason university, where he teaches public policy. and this is all about public
policy. so, welcome. >> thank you. nice to be here. >> talking about public policy, we have some people who want to change. they want to change it in the home, they want to change it overseas. what is going on? in short -- an election. >> shortens elections. where everything is seen in the prism of wars. you find is curious? we have wars on women, we have wars on small business. everything is seen in the prison -- prism of war. that is a sad thing. why are we not talk about policy? >> and there are shooting wars going on. contention in afghanistan, contention in syria. there may soon be in iran. the real wars and chateau wars. >> and what are now being called a phony war -- like the phony
war on women. why don't we just talk about policies of women -- that we will we have a flare-up like hilary rosen. >> tell a sushi is. not a household word, maybe washington. >> democratic strategist -- outspoken person and is now working at cnn that as a commentator and she made a very stupid comments. >> i've made a lot of those. >> i know that. >> but i have not been taken up in a presidential debate. >> when she made this comment -- it happened to have stuck to the present. this is what is happening with these wars. when these stupid comments of -- are made they stick to -- >> like etch-a-sketch. where anybody on your campaign, in your household, living in this suburb, you make a stupid
comment -- it is yours. >> and you got to deal with it. and it is very unfortunate. >> what do you think about this? >> i think the war metaphor has been overused in this very heated and protracted political campaign. and it is a typical example of exaggerated rhetoric. and i'm happy to say that it looks like we are going to be done with the republican battle as of now actually with senator santorum's departure from the republican race. things ought to settle down. >> we have two contestants -- the president and romney. >> we can see the november framework. >> and will they have enough money to slang? >> then they can declare war on each other. >> absolutely. >> the word war is certainly over used, applied to too many things that aren't really wars. but to linda's point, it also provides us that opportunity for responsible people interested in
helping us shape the dialogue to say, wait a second -- about policy and not these kinds of comments. my students had a very nice and surprisingly long back-and-forth about this, and the passion that exists on both sides at the comment is something that i think it turned into a discussion about health care, education, food -- all those sorts of things. and i think you can actually take these lemons and make some lemonade. but sadly, given the easy way in which we use words like war to just throw them on the table like it is so easy -- like it is almost nothing, i am not particularly optimistic although i am hopeful we can get somewhere. >> we lost a lot of these horrible wars, haven't we? the war on poverty, the war on drugs, on this -- >> i was going to mention the war on drugs.
tremendous failure. >> we will come back to that because it is very critical at this time. >> i was on to ask linda -- you think the hillary rosen story have life beyond this week? >> i think the story of women is a story that has life. >> can you be specific? >> the underlying story was that mrs. romney was fortunate enough not to have to work. she did a great job raising her family. >> work outside the home. >> but luckily for hershey did not have to work outside the home. for those women who had to juggle the family life and their home lives, it has been a real struggle for them, a really terrible one. i think that is worth investigating more as the campaigns go on. let's flesh out what the candidates really think about the women who work or women
period. that is worth getting into in a very constructive way and the palace in the policy with it >> i would like to add i grew up in a time and a place where women did not work. when he got married, you stop working. as you imagine, very few -- usually in journalism and the arts, but otherwise would and did not work when they got married. they were often board. some of them is where the captors of their husbands who ration their mother -- money, but most were just board. but mostly it was a terrible waste of talent. one of the great things about the time we did in is that we have the talent of women in the national life. and it was the night for a very long time and it was denied all over the world. it was helped, in some way, by domestic appliances -- electricity and other things that freed women from their homes. there was not as much work to be done because the home is a place
of hard work. i think i can claim a little credit. i started the first women's liberation magazine in this country. did not liberate any woman and liberated all my money. but i did do it. let's go to drugs. of the war on drugs. the president in cartagena, colombia, there was a bad story and the back story was the countries of central and south america think the war on drugs has been lost and something else has to be done. what do you think, michael? >> i don't think there is any question it has been lost. we see it chipped away here in the united states, various medicinal marijuana laws, sort of opening the door to wider changes in policy. but moreover, i think the bigger point is this war will never be one as long as consumption stands at where it stands in the united states. and so, to my way of thinking --
all the talk about interdiction, incarcerates in -- incarceration, all of those things will mean nothing as long as demand is there. what particularly troubles me as someone who is a political scientist and interested in american elections is how the war on drugs, particularly the conservation aspect, has been utilized to disenfranchise tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people around the country with a law that says if you have been convicted of a felony you cannot vote. so there are political implications to this war on drugs. >> but there is also something very sad. you are trying to close the borders to drugs but you can't even close the prisons to drugs. there are drugs in prisons. the most secure environment on earth as a prison and the drugs are getting in, which i think should cause a rethinking. >> and i think an important point about the decriminalization, for example, of marijuana -- number one,
there is never going to be a national decriminalization or legalization of marijuana until there is natural leadership on that point. if you go back to the prohibition era and the repeal of the act in 1933, there were two presidential election -- 1928 and 1932 where repeal was a big issue. finally in 1932 roosevelt won not necessarily on repeal -- although it was part of his program -- he won because of the economic depression that the u.s. was in. it will take national leadership before anything like that happens and there is no national leader that i see on the horizon right now who is going to undertake that role. it is too politically risky to do that. >> i think you can decriminalize -- and probably legalized tax and manage and control the active ingredient in marijuana because otherwise it gets stronger and there are huge
variations within that drug now. but when you come to the hard drugs -- the tropical drugs -- cocaine, heroin, and now, of course, the synthetic drugs like methamphetamine, there you need some science. if you just decontrol them immediately there is a proselytizing affect on drugs -- people talk other people into doing it. the british learned this. they used to have a system -- they went crazy when people broke into the hospital -- hear one is used for terminal patients -- and proselytize a huge number of other people and of course -- corresponded with a lot of immigrants coming in and do about drugs and now they have the same repressive and an effective system we have. we have to do what french did with absinthe -- they got rid of the but they substituted it with this same sticky -- >> what is absinthe?
>> it is made out of wormwood? [laughter] -- >> what is wormwood. >> it was a big killer of people, including the famous painter lautrec -- people want blind. it often had wood alcohol in it. the french did not say don't do what. they said, try something that looks the same and certainly will not kill you. we've got to throw some science at these drugs so they are less lethal. it did give me a moment for station identification, particularly for listeners on sirius xm -- channel 124, listening to white house chronicle from washington, d.c., with myself, llewellyn king and linda gasparello of this program, ed kelley, editor of "washington times," chuck lewis,
senior editor at hearst newspapers and michael fauntroy of the george mason university. you can also see this program on the english language stations of the voice of america around the world, and you can see it on about 200 regular television stations, public stations, public access station, and others here in the united states. where were we? we were talking about drugs. i think we have done drugs. unfortunate choice of words. you're an editor, aren't you? >> the not ask what was in this cup. just want to make sure. >> i got on the wrong bit of this of drugs in the '60s. everybody was doing them. i was scared of them. i was already rather to find out all. i felt with my personality, the last thing i needed was to try something new. i'll stay with the alcohol. marijuana -- i did not have a moral position that i did not find people were much fun when
they were doing it. i do not think people going -- great stuff. and they did not use the word stuff. another short word. did not find that entertaining. driven a martini and they would talk the night away. it is all a matter of personal taste. "the washington post" in the late 1960's and arlen 1970's, we were divided in two -- there were no more issues. of those who drank and those who -- what of the other issues that we would like to see are socially based issues that are going to be in this campaign? >> i want to go back to linda's point of about the war on winner -- women. and over use of the word war. whoever would have believed in the year 2012 in the presidential era that we are in that the issue of birth control would be first and foremost in a lot of people's minds.
the gender gap that traditionally favors democratic presidential candidates versus republican candidates is growing even wider because republicans are seen as advocating restrictions on birth control. and this is the year 2012, a debate i thought was over with 40 years ago is suddenly back again. and it is to the detriment of the republican politicians who are seen to be advocating restrictions on birth control. >> michael? >> and restrictions on birth control run counter to part of the ideological philosophy of the party which is to expand personal liberty. so there is a conflict between -- on the one hand, saying we really do need to affectively control people's lives on the one hand but on the other hand we have a wing of the party that says -- wait and second, you can have government intrude in people's lives. the libertarian wing and the sort of traditional social
conservative wing are having this tug of war right now. and i think rick santorum's ascendancy, to the extent he had won, was driven in large measure by e wind in the sales provided by social conservatives and we sort of fast forward to november -- governor romney is going to have a significant problem bringing duo's people to the fold in part because the republican party, the social conservative wing of the republican party is based in the south and evangelical and 7 evangelicals in some respects don't even believe that his -- southern evangelicals in some respects don't even believe that his religion -- they believe he belongs to the colts. if you add it up you see a tremendous conflict that the republicans are going to have to sort out by november. and it is an open question whether not they can. >> you are the editor of a largely conservative newspaper. how does this strike you? >> it strikes me that, for one
thing, that republicans have had some missteps this late winter and early spring on this particular issue. some in the republican party will tell you, though, that by this summer and early fall rolls around we are really in the general election campaign. the conventions are passed us. then they will focus on what they really want to focus on, which is economy and jobs and in the long run that all people, men and women of all colors, will rally around that one particular issue that the most care about, and that is why they are so interested in hearing about what that romney has to say on all of this, that it is just about biography now. he has been a successful businessman. but can he lay a strategy of to put america back to work? >> what about the business that he seems to have a general difficulty in connecting with ordinary people -- indeed, understanding the pressure in their lives, which are largely financial. very often financial --
financial triggering other pressures. how can he bridge that? how can he understand the rest of us better? >> in this day and time with social media and 24/7 media and may be his greatest challenge. one thing he can't talk about or is reluctant to talk about understandably so is his faith. it is almost -- it seems almost totally -- although obviously his family has been in the mormon religion for a better part of two centuries. >> it is his strongest selling point. but off limits. >> would say this is a christian faith, somewhat different christian faith. then he can say that because there are southern evangelical preachers who are saying it is not a christian faith and they have been saying that far longer than the romney could come out now and chase that dog down the street. >> jack -- i think chuck and i would remember the shock
horrible with president kennedy being catholic -- will he be listening to the pope? >> i have some mormon friends who are very, very nervous that of their religion is going to be a big topic going into the fall campaign. they are very nervous that it is going to be put in a negative light. i think they are so touchy about it does anything that is said about mormon is and they may take the wrong way. but they are extremely touchy about this very issue. >> i think getting back to your original question -- i think one thing i would like to see both candidates do is somehow talk about our standard of living and how do we maintain the standard of living that is an ideal for americans? this is a place where children go to school and learn things, where the roads are well paid, where the bridge's are not
crumbling, where people can earn a decent living. all of that -- own a home. somebody has to talk about that standard of living and how much it has eroded. a -- in a very specific way to maintain a very high standard of living as we go into the future. >> let me just add to the question -- >> reagan's shining city in the sky. >> one of the columnists vilifying the president -- sometimes tertiary issues -- his commitment to christianity, is in the middle name, whether he was born in america. it does this help or hinder the republican nominee, and for that matter, republicans in general? >> i don't think it necessarily
occur to the nominee. mitt romney obviously will raise a lot of money. i read today he will have up towards $600 million but he has an incredible organization, as we have seen. everyone around him says he is a much better candidate than he was in 2008. i think a lot of these peripheral issues will not -- i don't think it will be a big issue. he will focus on the economy. but it is up to him to lay out a strategy how to get there so everyone, men and women of all colors, can understand. >> i think romney will make obama the issue in the campaign. the economy is a subset of obama. i think the republican campaign, especially the potential for negative advertising brought on by the super pacs that of course are allegedly independent of the candidate, of this negative advertising will crucify obama. and the campaign is going to be
a referendum on obama as president, obama as a person. as i say, the economy as a subset but i think it will be -- >> but one of the dangers because polls show most americans, whether they agree with the president or not, they like him and they like his family. and the personal attacks, could that backfire? >> that could be. but mitt romney will present himself -- probably present himself as a positive comparison to obama, a person who is a person of faith -- we are not sure about president obama's particular religious orientation -- and, by golly, how many kids? he's got five sons? all of those sons will be all over the place. it will be family time in america. >> i am going to go the other way on this somewhat. making president obama sort of the source of all the focus is a double-edged sword. because the reality is, governor romney's like ability numbers
are not higher than the president. so everybody he intends to chip away or his supporters or the super pacs that support him will try to chip away at his popularity, they in fact will be hurting governor romney. >> to paraphrase harold macmillan, the english for a minister, the future -- events, dear boy -- the reston what worried him, and he said events, dear boy. my guest will be the events that will determine the election will be the economy and what happens with iran -- and we don't know what else. it is time for our high points and zero. . linda gasparello. >> i have a loan note -- i learned president sarkozy has banned she's service at state dinners. he already does not drink, and therefore, what kind of frenchman could this be? noguchi's?
-- no cheese. >> because i like baseball, i have a low note, i see guillen -- manager of the miami marlins. if he were in toronto, seattle -- to say like he did in the magazine that he loves the delaware castro and mesmerized by the fact he has been able to stay in power for more than 50 years, that would be one thing, but to say it in miami, florida -- >> stupid. >> of the backdrop of the largest cuban-american community in the country, many of these people's families have been up and if not outright destroyed by castro's regime was to be. he got a five game suspension. he is lucky that is all he got. >> mine is a positive and negative. i am glad senator santorum got out of the race. i think he did a good job raising issues that were important, but i think his departure will truncate this
long, insurmountable political season and voters are suffering from election fatigue already. >> tens of thousands about something that will not happen. >> my low notes regard to the public discourse on around the whole trayvon martin ks and florida. >> i agree. >> we have degenerated public discourse and we also have a dead 17-year old and we ought to do better with that. >> that is our show. i would like to thank the exelon corp. of chicago for sponsoring this program. we will see you back here next week. cheers.
>> many have spoken out on the need to transition to a clean energy future. at exelon, we are acting. by 2020, we are committed to reducing, offsetting, or displacing more than 15 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually from greening our operations, helping customers and communities reduce emissions, and offering more low carbon electricity in the marketplace. at exelon, we are taking action and we are seeing results. produced in collaboration with whut, howard university television. from washington, d.c., this has been "white house chronicle," a weekly analysis of the news with insight and a sense of humor featuring llewellyn king, linda gasparello, and guests. this program can be seen on pbs stations and cable access channels. to view the program online,